Punjab leads the pack

Published: July 12, 2013
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The Punjab chief minister appears to have a clear vision for what Punjab’s competitive advantage is and has devoted his government’s resources towards enhancing those core strengths. PHOTO: INP

The Punjab chief minister appears to have a clear vision for what Punjab’s competitive advantage is and has devoted his government’s resources towards enhancing those core strengths. PHOTO: INP

Devolution of power to the provinces is only as good as what the provincial governments themselves choose to make of it, and it is becoming increasingly clear that despite being the province that supposedly gave up the most revenue under the National Finance Commission Award, Punjab is determined to make the best of its new-found autonomy.

This past week, for instance, Punjab has begun a new skills training programme that will train over 135,000 women in the province — a trade that will, in turn, allow them to earn a living on their own. The province has also sought the help of the British government in recruiting and training 45,000 new teachers.

These are worthy initiatives, but we applaud them not just for the effects that they will have, but the vision behind them. The Punjab chief minister is not just a good manager; he appears to have a clear vision for what Punjab’s competitive advantage is and has devoted his government’s resources towards enhancing those core strengths.

Hence, for instance, the province has invested heavily in improving its agricultural infrastructure and road network. But far more than farms and well-paved roads, the chief minister appears to believe that Punjab’s biggest strengths can be its nearly 100 million people.

To design the Punjab government’s education initiative, he became the only provincial chief minister to hire McKinsey & Company, the prestigious consulting firm, and the resulting improvements in Punjab’s educational achievement outcomes have been widely praised.

Punjab is offering its people a path to the middle class and other provinces appear to have begun to take notice. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to make education and health a priority and even Balochistan has begun to focus on investing in its human capital.

It appears that Punjab has successfully goaded the rest into competing in this game, in which the only winners are the people of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • saif
    Jul 12, 2013 - 9:36PM

    Nice choice in selection of divided Punjab’s image..have better copy editors and image selectors in future!

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  • H Chaudhry
    Jul 12, 2013 - 10:58PM

    Excellent work by Shahbaz Shareef.

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  • Z
    Jul 12, 2013 - 10:59PM

    Looks like this has been written by a representative of the Government of Punjab. Pathetic.

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  • Sodomite
    Jul 12, 2013 - 11:07PM

    Applaud when someone is doing good. SS has a good instinct to get the problem resolved. But he should have bureaucracy working consistently at nagging issues that saps energy of do gooders.

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  • Jul 12, 2013 - 11:30PM

    Talk about Punjab’s educational achievements when you are willing to send your own kid to a public school. Until then please spare us!

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  • Saleem
    Jul 13, 2013 - 12:00AM

    Great. it will be better if Shahbaz Sharif start working closely with Dr. Malik to transfer some of the things he is doing in Punjab to Baluchistan as well.

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  • H Chaudhry
    Jul 13, 2013 - 12:48AM

    @Syed Awais, “Spare us” ? you dont have to read and comment if you dont like! No one is showing this material down your throat my friend. Things dont change in a day. What Shahbaz is accomplishing in Punjab is phenomenal. Remember, you have to walk before you run.

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  • Muhammad Bilal Aslam
    Jul 13, 2013 - 4:19AM

    I don’t build my opinion against or in favor of any government but what I experience in daily life. Punjab government has hired massive number of teachers on merit in last tenure. My class fellow, an engineer, is also an IT teacher at a village with decent salary. He has told me that the process was transparent and on merit. Secondly, I called 15 for a minor complaint. My complaint was immediately handled and local ASP personally called me until the issue was resolved. Then, I received an automated call and SMS asking me to reply to a given number if I was mistreated in any way. This is called good governance and this is why people of Punjab have given PMLN such huge mandate.

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  • Kaleem
    Jul 13, 2013 - 11:27AM

    In his previous term, he called a meeting of IT entrepreneurs and asked us to give him suggestions to improve IT infrastructure. I thought it was just another meeting for the sake of meetings, but I was impressed to see his keen attitude towards our problems and his vision of society. It was his sixth meeting in that day and it was supposed to last for an hour, but SS extended the time seeing quality suggestions and we had around 3 hours session. I hope and pray that he remains well and keeps this vision.

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  • A. Khan
    Jul 13, 2013 - 1:42PM

    Compared to the other provinces, Punjab stands head and shoulders above them in terms of better (note I didnt say good) governance. Could it be improved further ? Certainly. Has it resolved all the problems ? Certainly not but it makes the other provinces look pretty lame specially Sindh and Balochistan. And I was expecting so much from previous KP government. Well, the election result says it all.

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  • Pashtunyar
    Jul 13, 2013 - 1:52PM

    KPK and Balochistan have been facing brutal insurgencies that have crippled our economies! FATA is a terrorist haven from where they regularly carry out attacks in Peshawar at will and without impunity! Projecting Power and maintaing peace in the tribal areas is the responsibility of the federal govt! And then there is the question of royalties…By getting cheap electricity and gas from KPK and Balochistan we are for all practical purposes subsidizing industries in punjab!

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  • stevenson
    Jul 13, 2013 - 6:00PM

    @Farooq: Please don’t celebrate the death of children due to measles in Punjab, Sind KPK or any developing area in the world. No one disputes that there are challenges in Punjab which is the most populous province but no one disputes that it is the best managed and developing province in the country – most of the credit goes to Shahbaz Sharif who works constantly to improve Punjab. I can guarantee you that not only measles but all infectuous outbreaks will come under control in Punjab because people there are motivated to keep developing their province and country.

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  • nasir khan
    Jul 16, 2013 - 6:47AM

    “He hired McKinsey & Company, the prestigious consulting firm”. It is a shame that our inferiority complex leaders still hire highly expensive Western consultants for formulating common sense education policy. A team of dedicated education professionals could probably do a much better job as they would know the real issues from hands-on experience and their familiarity with local conditions. I have worked for more than one of such well known prestigious firms and have seen that they typically have nothing special to offer.

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  • Farooq
    Jul 16, 2013 - 1:26PM

    @stevenson: Its a matter of shame sir that we cannot guarantee our children the basics of health….and you think i’m celebrating…i’m ashamed….mind you i’m no supporter of any party nor an apologist for any province. things in other provinces like kpk, sindh, and balochistan would be equally bad. but as a resident of punjab, when i hear things like “punjab leads the pack…” or “punjab is head and shoulders above other provinces…” its my right as well as duty to set the narrative straight. punjab is no better…there is no system in place…everything revolves around one person who doesn’t have his priorities right. the focus is more on propaganda rather than improving the system….and unless we realize it soon, we are doomed

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